How To Choose The Right Solar Panel

We know that this can be an overwhelming decision and we will try to equip you with the latest and most useful information you will need in making your decision.

When choosing the right panel there are a few things to consider.

1. Cost – this should not be the most important factor, but it should be high on the list.  What you want is a panel that is a balance between the cost and performance.  Chinese panels will be the lowest cost and value, Japanese panels are better, European and American are the best.

2. Efficiency– the more efficient the panel, the more power they produce.  A high-efficiency system will give you a better return on your money.  Typically, solar panels for homes have efficiencies between 14% and 20%.

3. Durability– all solar panels will come with a 25 year warranty.  We don’t recommend anything less than 25 years.  The longer the warranty on your solar panels, the more comfort you have about the long-term performance of your solar investment.

4. Type Of Panels – there are 3 main types of solar panels; mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline and amorphous.  For the most part, the only two types of solar panels used for homes are poly-crystalline and mono-crystalline.

Solar Panel Comparison

Yes, some panels are more efficient than others, but that doesn’t mean that they are worth paying the additional price.  You should always keep in mind how many watts the system will produce and how long it will take to pay for itself.  Each solar installer should give you an EPBB calculation.  That calculation is done by the California Solar Initiative to determine you rebate.  It is based on third party performance data from tests done on the panels.

Here are some solar manufacturers we like (no specific order):

  • Schuco (Made in Germany) due to intensive research, continual development of the production process and a new type of highly automated manufacture, Schüco is one of Germany’s leading manufacturers of thermal collectors.
  • SunPower (Made in USA) was founded by Dr. Richard Swanson in 1984 after initially looking at developing solar energy technology as a way to tackle the oil crisis in the 1970s having become intrigued by the use of solar cells that were being utilized on space satellites. Fast forward 36 years and SunPower is now one of the biggest developers in the solar energy field.  They have offices in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore, Korea and Australia.
  • Kyocera Solar (Made in Japan, Mexico & USA) is a world leader in solar technology. Kyocera Corporation was founded in 1959 in Kyoto, Japan. They helped organize the Japan Solar Energy Corp. in 1975 and since then they’ve consistently been ahead of the curve in research and development.
  • Sharp Solar (Japan owned, manufactured in USA) began mass production of solar cells in the sixties when they constructed a 225-watt generating facility for a lighthouse, the world’s largest solar power system at the time. Their proprietary innovation in surface texturing of panels increases their light absorption yielding high efficiency ratings up to 14.4 percent.
  • MAGE (Made in Germany and USA)Strictest quality controls and continuous investment in R&D make MAGE POWERTEC PLUS modules one of the top market-leaders with an outstanding 10-year product warranty and a 30-year 80% performance guarantee. MAGE SOLAR’s highly acclaimed German engineered/US-assembled modules are UL-listed and fully ARRA-compliant.
  • SolarWorld (Assembled in USA) Founded in 1988 has over 3,600 employees producing solar cells, silicon wafers and photovoltaic modules in various countries including Sweden and the U.S.  Its revenue turnover for 2010 was 1.3 billion Euros. It is currently enjoying a boom posting a 32% increase in annual shipments of megawatts to 185 MW.